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Kyoto

Blue Note

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Blue Note is one of Kyoto’s oldest night establishments (open almost 50 years, now) and is well-known for good live blues and jazz. As a result it has followers of all ages; from an older crowd to office staff to university students. This bar is a cozy place to drink and chat away the night with great music to complement the evening. Live music is usually on Fridays and Saturdays.

  • Opening Hours: Nightly from 19:00 – 02:00
  • Location: Between Kawaramachi and Kiyamachi just round the corner from the Bal building.
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Bar This Way

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This friendly bar is well known for its rich choices of beer (more than 45 beers, mostly from Belgium & Holland) and variety of cocktails. This Dutch-owned venue usually features live acoustic music once a month when Japanese and foreign singers and bands perform their material. Happy hour runs daily from 19:00 - 20:00. Enjoy live sports on their wide-screen TV. English-speaking staff. Cash only system.

  • Opening Hours: Daily from 18:00 – 01:00, Friday - Saturday from 19:00 – 03:00
  • Location: On the third floor of Tanaka Building, North of the Royal Hotel
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Gnome

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Gnome is located in the basement of the SSS building, a few minutes north of Oike. The bar offers plenty of Irish pub food and drinks at reasonable prices plus all vegetables used in their kitchen are organic. Gnome is popular for having regular live music and happy hour runs daily from 17:00 – 20:00. Don’t forget to check out the crafts shop upstairs which is also run by the same talented owner as Gnome.

  • Opening Hours: Weekdays from 17:00 – 01:00, weekends 16:00 – 01:00
  • Location: In the basement of the SSS building
  • How to get there: Just a little bit north of Oike on the west side of Kawaramachi. Look for the yellow sign, you can’t miss it.
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McLoughlin's Irish Bar

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Run by Chef Tadg and Mika McLoughlin, this Irish bar and restaurant is a popular hangout as well as a meeting joint among Kyoto expats and Japanese residents. Weekends are busier than the weekdays as they regularly host live music then. Enjoy the great view of the Kamogawa River and the east mountains while partying or dining at McLoughlin’s on the eighth floor of the Empire Building. McLoughlin’s boasts at least 10 microbrews on tap. Their kitchen features Irish and continental favourites (all salads are from organic farms in the Kyoto area) and prices are reasonable. The bar has English-speaking staff, free Wi-Fi and major credit cards are accepted. Daily happy hours from 18:00 – 20:00.

  • Opening Hours: Sun, Mon, Wed and Thu from 18:00 - 24:00, Fri and Sat from 18:00 until late. Closed on Tuesdays
  • Location: 8F Empire Building on Kiyamachi, north of Sanjo
  • Tel: +81 (0)75 212 6339
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A Bar

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This lively izakaya is popular with a young student crowd for its great atmosphere and cheap prices. The interior is modeled after a log cabin making the izakaya warm and welcoming at any time of year. This is a great place to start off on a night out in Nakagyo.

  • Opening Hours: 17:00 - 24:00
  • Location: Nishikiyamachi-dori, Nakagyo-ku
  • Tel: +81 (0)75 213 2129
  • How to get there: Keihan line, Sanjo Station
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Live Spot Rag

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Live Spot Rag is one of the most interesting venues in Kyoto. It’s where you can get a chance to listen to live music from rock to jazz and more. Their kitchen offers a mixer of everything from Japanese to Asian and some western dishes including smoked salmon & cheese pizza, Malaysian chicken curry with rice, Chinese style spring rolls, seafood & seaweed salad and tofu salad.

  • Opening Hours: Nightly from 18:00 – 02:00, weekends closed at 04:30
  • Location: On the 5th floor of Empire Building, Kiyamachi Dori Street
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Café Rumbita

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You’d be surprised to see how many Kyoto people love salsa and Latin dances. Café Rumbita is among the city’s favorite venues for Latin beats. The café puts on Latin dance classes nightly from beginners to advanced level. After the classes, the floor is open for everyone to party and dance away the night. Food and drinks are also served.

  • Opening Hours: Nightly from 21: 00 – 02:00, Saturday closed at 05:00
  • Location: On the 3rd Floor of Shizuya Building, Kawaramachi Street
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Bar Isn't It?

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This is probably the best known bar in all of Kyoto. Dutch-owned Bar Isn’t It? is a concert venue, a hot weekend dance spot and at other times a casual bar. The spacious interior attracts people from all walks of life making it a great place for people watching and meeting new people. If the crowds of up to 500 people get too much for you, head to the side bar for a quiet sake before heading back onto the thundering dance floor.

  • Location: 67-3 Daikoku-cho, Kawaramachi Sanjo, Nakagyo-ku
  • Tel: +81 (0)75 221 5399
  • How to get there: Keihan line, Sanjo Station
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Backgammon

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Described as a place for ‘serious drinking’ Backgammon is a popular late night spot drawing groups of people from the clubs who are not ready for the night to end. The bar is cozy and dark and if you are able to climb the ladder you can sit in the crow’s nest and have your drinks sent up by a special elevator.

  • Opening Hours: Daily 20:00 - 05:00
  • Location: Aoi Biru Hitosujime nishi-iru, 2F, Kiyamachi-Sanjo agaru, Nakagyo-ku
  • Tel: +81 (0)75 223 0416
  • How to get there: Keihan line, Sanjo Station

ING

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Chances are if you’re walking past ING at night, one of the friendly hostesses will approach you to invite you in. This lively bar and izakaya offers good cheap drinks and snack foods within an animated atmosphere making it a great place to begin a night out.

  • Opening Hours: Mon - Thu 18:00 - 02:00; Fri - Sat 18:00 - 05:00
  • Location: 2F Royal Bldg, Pontocho, Nishikiyamachi-dori-Takoyakushi, Nakagyo-ku
  • Tel: +81 (0)75 255 5087
  • How to get there: Keihan line, Sanjo Station
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Metro

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This eclectic club hosts a myriad of events from small concerts, to discos, to art exhibitions. Latin nights draw huge crowds and the Non-Hetero-at-the-Metro nights are major gay and lesbian events in Kyoto. The club draws an interesting mix of creative people with a different musical theme every night.

  • Opening Hours: Sun – Thu 22:00 - 03:00; Fri – Sat 22:00 - 05:00
  • Location: Ebisu Biru, B1F, Kawabata-dori-Marutamachi kudaru, Nakagyo-ku
  • Tel: +81 (0)75 752 4765
  • How to get there: Marutamachi Station, Keihan line
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